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Fareed Zakaria GPS

News/Business. Foreign affairs and policies shaping the world.

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Yemen 8, Us 8, United States 6, Washington 5, America 4, New York 4, Eliot Spitzer 3, Obama 3, U.s. 3, France 3, Levee 2, Underreaction 2, Amy 2, Fareed 2, Naomi Klein 2, Medicare 2, Afghanistan 2, London 2, Walden University 2, Paris 2,
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  CNN    Fareed Zakaria GPS    News/Business. Foreign affairs  
   and policies shaping the world.  

    January 17, 2010
    1:00 - 2:00pm EST  

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towards the future. >> our thanks for sharing his story. go to cnn.com/impactyourworld for tips on how you can contribute, help the devastation in haiti. i'm john king in washington, thanks for joining us today. fareed zakaria "gps" starts right now. this is "gps the global public square." we begin today with haiti. i want to go beyond the terrible images you've seen in the last days tragic as they are, and help us understand this tragedy and how it came to be this way. everybody surely knows by now that haiti is the poorest country in the entire western hemisphere, but that's not the whole story. you see, haiti has been marked by violence, turmoil and tragedy from the start until recently when things turned up only to be dashed by this earthquake. and that start informed the tragedies that had befallen this
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country ever since. so, a quick history lesson, one that i think is fascinating on its own merits and one that is essential to understanding haiti today. the island that became known as his panola was discovered by europeans when christopher columbus landed there in 1492. 200 years later in 1697, the french gained control of the western part of this island. african slaves growing sugar and coffee and tobacco there became a gold mine for the french, but then in 1791, the slaves revolted. it's been called the vietnam war of its time, a rag tag band of insurgents defeating one of the greatest militaries of the age. none other than the tens of thousands of his french troops they all tried to beat back the rebellion and they all failed. on new year's day, 1804, the last defeated frenchship left the island and the slaves
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declared victory and haiti, the nation that emerged, is the only nation in the entire world that was founded by slaves. but the elation from emancipation didn't last long. the nation was very poor, made poorer by the french who claimed for losing the war. the plantation system along with much of the country has been ravaged by the war and the vast majority of the population didn't know how to do anything but farm for a master. furthermore, the world was weary of this nation. the united states, for example, didn't recognize haiti for the first 58 years of its existence until 1862, a year after the u.s. civil war began. and that was the official beginning of what continues to this day to be a difficult relationship. in 1915, the u.s. sent in a landing force to occupy the nation and the country was in a state of chaos and some said america simply wanted to protect
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its investments there. whatever the reasons for coming, the americans stayed for almost 20 years. and it was an often brutal occupation. the americans under franklin eleanor roosevelt withdrew in 1934. haiti remained a troubled and deeply chaotic place. 60 years later, they were back and in 1994 under the clinton administration, the american military went in again. this time they came to restore democracy and two years later haiti saw for the first time in its then almost 200-year history a peaceful transition of power from one democratically elected president to another. but then the earthquake and late wednesday afternoon, of course, america returned again. this time not just with military might, but with aid workers, search and rescue teams, doctors, nurses and much more. the response from the rest of the world has been strong. but the response from america has been extraordinary.
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it's a wonderful example of the power of america to do good and do it fast. so, on today's show, a different kind of panel on haiti, some smart writers and novelists all familiar with the island nation to discuss many of the issues i just raised. then, wall street. a former governor eliot spitzer, bush speech writer david and stephen dubner and the author naomi klein about wall street's big businesses on reform. then the powerful finance minister of france with her drastic solution to the problem of banker bonuses. let's get started. now, to discuss how haiti may go on from here, joining me are from boston pulletszer prize winner tracy kidder.
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a book about an extraordinary man named paul farmer and his efforts to bring hope to haiti. from washington madison smart bell who has written more than a dozen books including a fascinating biography of the leader of the haitian revolution. and in los angeles, journalist amy rulence who lived in haiti through the '80s and '90s reporting on its turmoil and unrest. what should happen going forward? tracy kidder, you saw one man try to make a difference, but a lot of people feel all right. put in a lot of money, help as much as you can but the long-term solution has to be to give haiti's economy some kind of internal strength of its own. some internal vitality. from what you saw, what is the solution? what will allow haiti to stop being the kind of basket case always dependent on western aid
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and to really become a viable nation economically as well as political? >> the only honest answer is to say i don't know. i'm not a development expert, though i don't trust them particularly, either. but i do think that there is really no hope unless the effort to rebuild is well coordinated and unless it involves the haitians and unless it begins to strengthen haitian institutions. the haitians are perfectly willing to do this. i think that part of what's required is that these, particularly the aid organizations and the united states, usa id, which badly needs reforming, that they understand that the only way to help haiti out of this mess is to, is to instill expertise, infrastructure and part of the problem in haiti, it seems to me now, is these 10,000 or more mgo
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os, private aid organizations working there without any coordination. basically, they've taken over a huge percentage of the functions of a government, but it's the worst kind of government you could imagine. no accountability at all because the whole point is to try to make these kind of efforts haitian. >> amy, what is your thought about the cultural conditions in haiti that make it backward because there is a lot of people, you know, sam huntington and people like that who used to study culture and development. haiti was the poster child of a place with the kind of culture that was to economic success. that just all kind of attributes that men didn't take pride in possession and didn't work hard and all this kind of thing. you lived there. >> yeah, i lived there and i totally disagree. speakling of possession, they have pride of possession.
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they're a deeply, deeply capitalest country from the littlest guy on the street to the richest man on the top of the mounten and i don't agree with that and what i think is that haiti had two problems. one is it came of age when at a time to be an independent black nation was not appreciated by the slave holding countries that still existed and the other is that in a christian world there were a lot of people in haiti who were following african traditional religion and this also was not appreciated in the rest of the world. so, i think when you see pat robertson saying that haiti is cursed because of its culture and the pact it made with the delve, you know, these are very retrograde attitudes towards haiti and sam huntington can be put in that pile, i think. but what worries me is not these big thinkers, supposedly and these big eloquent church people is that the normal person, the average person who has adopted these attitudes towards haiti
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not realizing where they come from. they come from prejudice. >> what is the attitude in haiti about foreigners coming to help? this is a country with long suspicion, all foreign powers, do they view these by and large as a good thing or is there a deep seeded suspicion of foreign involvement in haiti? >> i think that they're totally willing to cooperate with getting help that really is help. but one of the problems that does occur is that people from our religious right go down there because they want to combat the devil which to haitians is their religion. one of the great religions of the world, i'll say, and that also we in the united states just another example. there are all sorts of things like this. we tend to export our political divisions there, thus, creating confusion in our foreign policy with them. >> what do you think of this
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issue of anti-americanism and how they will view the american involvement particularly beyond the purely relief efforts but once to restore political stability? >> it's definitely kind, they're caught between a feeling of wanting to remain proud and independent and other devastation caused by this earthquake. so what's happening is this is an opening for things that haitians otherwise would not want like the marines coming in again. they're extremely practical people. they're going to say, okay, we need this now. we need the help and it's going to be clear very soon, if not already, that they're going to need the help for rebuilding the country, too. i hope that it can be, you know, cooperation of the willing so that the united states is not the only one there, the taiwan has been a long supporter of haiti and that they can help out. >> so many of the attempts to
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help haiti turn out to be self-serving, even though i think they're well intentioned, many of them. i mean self-serving if it's financial, i think some of these are just rackets but i think many are very good. if the purpose to the mission to haiti is educational for the people conducting the missions, that's beside the point. that's not what they should be doing there. they should help the haitians become stronger so that all these projects can become exclusively haitian and that means working with the government. the usual excuse for not working with the government is it's corrupt or weak but, of course, that's all the more reason to work with the government. this stuff is hard to do. no one said it would be easy. >> madison, you have written a lot of novels about haiti 200 years ago, if you were to write one today, what is the sort of central conflict dilemma that you see that you would want to
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pick up and view about haiti today? what would it be about? >> one of the reason is earthquake disaster is producing such horrific loss of life. for 30, 40, 50 years people have been moving out or essentially being starved out of the countryside coming down to these poorly constructed slums around the capital and those are the people that are getting killed and vast majority, i'm afraid. for me, not every idea that he had was good but the idea of working towards some sort of efficiency was a good idea, not an impossible idea and it would lead to reforestation and, ultimately, i think a decent amount of control of the haitian people over their own destiny. that sounds less like a novel than a political program. i'm sorry.
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>> those are relatively good novels. >> amy, if you were to write a book or article going forward, what is the, what is your solution long-term solution for haiti? how do you get it to be more viable? >> well, you know, self-respect and involvement. these are the key issues in haiti. i totally agree that the haitian government has to be empowered. you can't be a grown up unless you're allowed to behave like a grown up and that's really what has to happen in haiti. the parents just can't keep bossing everybody around. people have to be allowed to take control of their own lives. the only possible, small silver lining in this terrible, terrible catastrophe is that it provides a new way for thinking about haiti and putting us on your show to talk about new ways about haiti and i believe the obama administration that have haitian americans at a very high level has the capacity to really
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think in new ways about our relationship with haiti and about empowering haitians to take control of their own fate and rebuild their country. >> amy wilentz, tracy kidder, thank you all. very, very important discussion about a tragedy in haiti. thank you. >> if i'm playing and it's your risk when things go south but my gain when things turn out, then you get a fundamental asymmetry and the problem we had in wall street is that banks used to lend and keep part of the risk and therefore judgment was inherent in that decision. >> because they were gambling with their own money.
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most powerful bankers went to capitol hill to answer some tough questions. joining me now are some very bright people with tough questions of their own and some answers, as well. eliot spitzer is the former governor of new york. he's now teaching public policy at city cloollege in new york. david was an economic speechwriter for george w. bush. he is now a journalist and wears many hats. naomi klein journalist and author of "new york times" best
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seller and stephen is the co-author of the wildly popular freaknonics books. welcome to all of you. >> thank you. >> eliot spitzer, you listen to these hearings taking place. what do you think is the purpose? what should be the purpose of financial regulation moving forward? >> the critical issue that congress and the president have not addressed, what should a bank do? it sounds kind of silly. but we are creating these institutions with unlimited access to federal dollars and permitting them to speculate, move that capital overseas. that is not and should not be the purpose of the federal guarantee we need to get them to lend to business. >> one of thinks, the "times" had a great blog and they asked the people what question would you ask the bankers. the omb director said what you should do is really separate out the fdic in sport papart and th
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government guaranteed and they shouldn't be allowed to do anything risky. >> this is what many of us are talking and it is not only david stockman, it is nick brady. this is a bipartisan perspective that institutions that have a federal guarantee have access to tax dollars, should not be speculating with that money, their purpose should be to do what banks have traditionally have done which is to lend and remarkably that is why our economy is suffering right now. bankses are not lending, they're making money in proprietary trade and as we have said, we have socialized risk and privatized gain and they get the upside and we cover the downside and of course you'll continue to get this unfair and wrong equal librism in the marketplace. >> do you feel like this is kind of moving us towards the bad regulatory structure that
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limited banking in the '70s? >> we're not there yet, but i do worry about it. back in the '90 there was a saying that what made the united states the greatest country on earth you could borrow $100 million without owning a suit. that is something we want to protect. to get capital for new ideas. risk is inherent in banking. banks, no matter how regulated will still borrow, short and lend long. we want to make sure there are lively, active and creative ways for people with new ideas to get capital and that's why some of these republican members involved in this commission are going to be speaking up very loudly to make sure they protect the dynamic of the american economy. >> then, prezusumably you would not be in favor of a guarantee. you can't have it both ways. we want to have all this risk and maintain it, but if it goes south, the federal government comes in. >> we're fiddling with the dials
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here. there are a lot of things that have been learned from this crisis that are ways of mitigating some of the risk, especially in the mortgage lending. for sure people should be paying down payments and regulators should be requiring that. there was a great experiment done starting in the late 1990s to see can we drive home ownership from the low 60s to the high 60s. that looks like an experiment gone wrong. the low 60s looks like the right level for home ownership and the high level too high. that is, although exotic instruments built on that bad initial policy decision that was the moteer for the kriss >> your argument to make the political point clear is that that decision was fundamentally a decision that was driven more by democrats than republicans. >> the bush administration was up into their eyeballs. >> i mean this was bush's big idea at the beginning of thiz term and the centerpiece of the ownership society was getting low-income people, particularly
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low minorities into homes they couldn't afford. >> was that a bad idea? spreading the wealth. >> i think that the real issue there was inequality and this is how we address deep inequality. i think it was understood at the very start that this was a potential bubble and i think this is what pea lot of people didn't understand, why was bush so behind it? i don't think it was because he wanted african-americans to be in homes necessarily. i think it was because it was understood on wall street this was a potential bonanza. there was simultaneously a war on public housing. just this idea -- >> put aside motive. i don't think it's terribly to challenge anybody's move. i think it was behind ownership society because we all agree on ownership and somebody's great saying was nobody washed a rental car. ownership is good. who's at risk? fareed's question got it exactly right. if i'm playing and it's your
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risk when things go south and my gain when things turn out, then you get a fundamental asymmetry the problem in wall street is banks used to lend and keep part of the risk and therefore judgment was inherent in that decision. >> they were gambling with their own money. these banks were private partnerships. >> now they're playing with our money. other people's money -- >> there is some fairly technically things that without changing the whole way. when you say banks write mortgages they have to keep a certain portion of the mortgages they write. a fifth, a third. when they sell 100%, they have bad incentives before them. they know the loan best, they should keep the loan. on a random basis. >> if there is an animating idea, it is basically that there are all kinds of unintended consequences to decisions that you make. that people get incentives to do things and when you look at
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this, can you imagine regulation being put in place that will prevent people from gaining. i'm thinking of 1993 and ceos and bankers shouldn't be paid so much money in cash and they said you should all get stock options and, of course, what happened is you had taen-year bull market and these people now being paid 10 or 15 times more than if they would just paid in cash. >> if we were to agree the mess we are in is a result of the housing bubble which is a big assumption. if we were to isolate it on that, then i would say that b basically everything you said. there are pieces that are fundamental to the problem. the problem is when you set up a food chain, which is what we had, where everybody's incentives are aligned with themselves and with nobody else. you can call it whatever you want. not paying the own costs of your actions, but that's what we had. the mortgage process that we had
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where i can buy a house with a wi liar's loan and the seller offers a cash kickback to help me buy my house with no cash and then have some money to buy furniture when i get it in. the banks are selling off their mortgages and being packaged to people who don't know what is in them. the people incurring the benefit are passing along the risk. it reminds me a little bit of, if i wanted to open a restaurant in an airport that had traffic only going out y could serve the people whatever crap i want. it could be passed its date and cooked poorly and cost ten times what it could cost and once they're gone it's not my problem any more. can that be fixed? absolutely. from the mortgage end, regulatory end, doesn't mean it's easy. the reason i know it's too hard. i can pretend to solve a problem on paper, but actually getting people to do it in legislature, that's another story.
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>> naomi? >> this is the key issue. all kind of good ideas that have come and gone in the year and a half of this crisis and again and again they have been defeated on capitol hill, which, as dick durbin said, the banks own this place. all the common sense proposals come and go whether it's direct help for homeowners. nothing gets through. so, ultimately, this comes down to politics but also, for me, it comes down to campaign financial reform. and the fact that there's just such, there's legalized corruption. >> i totally agree with everything you said.amazing how and agreeing that the fed, aig, that is where it all converged and that is the black box, the center of the web and somehow the transparency we need there is essential. you're right, the good ideas are not being enacted. there is a status quo mentality on capitol hill that is pervasive -- >> broken feedback mechanism.
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something is blocked and it's corporate money. >> the fix is here. let's do, there are technical fixes, the kind of things i said about the way banks hold their securities and then be careful about doing too much because you can throttle something that i think is precious to everybody. >> statutes don't work, enforcement does. we have had for 15 or 20 years absense of enforcement. what we need is adherence to very simple principals of ethics and transparency in the marketplace and then it would work. >> on that note, we will take a break and come back and discuss all this and more. we will be right back. >> i think there's definitely been too much creativity in the wealth of derivatives trading. all do with them being a little less creative and all go into the arts and take up creative writing.
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i was having trouble getting out of bed in the morning because my back hurt so bad.
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we are back with our star-studded panel. what should be the purpose of financial regulation moving forward? >> this isn't a free market system, that is what has been revealed in this system. favors are traded amongst the elites. this idea that we will squelish creativity. there is too much creativity in the realms of derivatives trading, being little less creative and maybe going into the arts and take up creative writing. the idea that we suffer from an underreaction. the idea that we suffer from an underreaction to this crisis, an overreaction to this crisis is absurd. this is the most incredible underreaction, if we look at what we have some consensus about in terms of what caused the crisis, the overleveraging of the banks and the fact that derivatives are not regulated. the fact that the banks are too big to fail.
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the fact that they have been b come so intermingled. we have not dealt with a single one of them. we have not dealt with angel is one of them a year and a half later. in the meantime, we put around $14 trillion on the table and used none of the leverage. i mean, the whole premise of banking is that when you're handing out money you can put conditions on it and ask for all kind of things and it is just extraordinary that they blew that moment of leverage. >> can i ask you a question, i may interpret this wrong, but you seem to feel that government is kind of handcuffed in this situation. you three have very different views, i'm sorry, i don't mean to jump in your chair. interesting perspectives. we all have very, very different views of how and why and to what end government should be regulating, intruding, whatever we want to call it in all these different realms. my question to all of us, no matter what you think and what is being done no matter what you're afraid of maybe done to me the question is the larger one, government right now in washington is at this bizarre
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place. we were talking about this earlier where it's not paralyzed or broken, it's pretty darn close. it's really hard for me as someone who doesn't really traffic in the political realm willingly or all that often to see where is a good outcome here from a political perspebive because i don't see it. >> by the way, on any issue, if you look at immigration and energy and it's paralyzed in general. >> the united states government doesn't govern all that well, we'll concede that. but the american private sector does deliver unbelievable things and we're sitting here at the end of a period of extraordinary technical innovation and not just the internet we're all familiar with, but all kinds of products and products that people want. the ability, the ability of people to tap the equity in their homes when they face a financial crisis, that is a good innovation and the availability of more than one, lots of kinds of mortgage to people in different kind of circumstances. there are a lot of reasons why a rational person might
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intelligently want an interest only mortgage. we have the ability to raise capital and development all over the planet and the idea that you say, well, let's give it to the poets. i'm all for it, but to be at the end of this period is like being in one of the railway crisis of the middle 19th century and saying nothing real is accomplished. >> very effectively to beat it down. all of us here, i'll speak for myself, not for others, i'm a devote capitalests. i believe in the innovation and the conflict that emerges, let me finish. the reality is that we have an economy right now that has tremendous capacity but also over a ten-year period has not created any net jobs and the distribution of those proceeds is getting less and less equal and in terms of debit or credit situation and hundreds of different metrics and we're on the losing end and therefore we have to step back and say, how do we extend those benefits and continue them and make sure we
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create an environment and that's where we are. >> and it's true. not enough of it came through to the typical worker through the years 2001 to 2007. that was a big problem. and there were a lot of things we can talk about to fix that, including getting control of health care costs which is the great burden. but let us not crush the creativity and let us not look for a financial solution to economic problems. >> on that note, thank you all very much. we will be back right after this.
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now, for our what in the world segment. what got my attention was this. it isn't some disneyland re-creation of how things were done in ancient times. it's a camel running a sesame mill and it's happening now. in the nation of yemen.
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i think when the politicians and pundits new front on the war on terror in yemen and when officials talking about partnerring with yemen's government to bring stability and economic ability to that country, i despair. here we go again. look, yemen is a desperately poor country set back hundreds of years in the past. it's the midst of a slow war in the north and it has a south that has been trying to succeed since 1994. yemen's capital may be the first in modern history to pick up and move because it ran out of water. but the government of that capital has seemingly little control anyway and most of the country tribal customs are the only law of the land and that land is mostly desert. only one-quarter of 1% of yemen daggers under their belts and
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half the population is under 14 years of age and the same amount approximately half the country is illiterate and half live on less than $2 a day and the fourth highest population growth rate in the world and what isn't growing in yemen is its oil supply. in fact, it's shrinking. experts think there's less than ten years of oil left and that is bad news for a country where oil funds almost three-quarters of the nation's budget. the man responsible for this country, the president of yemen has been called by some little saddam and his nation is often referred to as afghanistan by the sea, but i would argue that it comparison is unfair to afghanistan. anyway, look, some militants associated with al qaeda have moved into yemen precisely because it is an utterly lawless, chaotic country with no functioning government and utterly backward. to hope that we can bring order there is to set ourselves up for failure. let us keep our attention on the small number of terrorists in
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yemen and try to tackle them. even if we did manage to bring good government to yemen, that small number of terrorists wouldn't really care. we will be right back. >> when you tell somebody that you are going to levee 50% of those large bonuses, it's never very pleasant. -d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d
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hello, i'm fredricka whitfield at the cnn headquarters in atlanta. rescue crews in haiti are finding more people trapped alive under mounds of rubble five days after the earthquake. today a new york rescue team pulled out two men and a girl who were pinned under a collapsed grocery store. aid continued to arrive there and the secretary-general of the u.n. is serving the damage today. and president barack obama soon to be boarding air force one there out of andrews air force base on his way to massachusetts. he is scheduled to speak at a campaign event for martha coakley. she is locked in a tight race with a seat left vacant by the late senator ted kennedy. if the democrats lose that seat, health care reform could be in
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jeopardy in the senate. the president talked about health reform earlier today at a church service in washington, d.c. >> we're called to do then is rebuild america from its found ation on health care and education and better energy and basic infrastructure and research and our generation is called to buckle down and get back to basics. we must do so not only for ourselves but also for our children. >> tomorrow the president and first lady will attend a celebration in honor of the dr. martin luther king jr. a man returning to the u.s. from haiti is charged with criminal trespass after causing a security breach at new york's jfk airport. he was arrested late last night at his home in brooklyn. authorities say he passed through a restricted door at the airport yesterday. the busy terminal was evacuated
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while police searched the building and passengers were subjected to additional screening and dozens of flights were delayed. and in iraq today, saddam hussein's cousin known as chemical ali was sentenced after his role in a poisoned gas attack back in 1988 that killed thousands of kurds, he has already been sentenced to death three times for other atrocities committed during hussein's regime. his execution in those cases has been delayed for political reasons.
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those monster bonuses that bankers have given themselves the one that is making the populous blood boil across the world. france is a trying a drastic method to curb them. christine luguard in concert with her british counterpart has levied a 50% tax on banker bonuses. she joins me from paris. when you imposed this tax did you worry about the outrage that it is surely causing among the financial industry in france?
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>> i did think about it when you tell somebody that you're going to levee 50% of equally, i thin right political message and it was perfectly appropriate and legitimate to do so this year, because last year was totally exceptional. banks needed taxpayer support. we needed them to be operating, moving money around, and lending to the economy. but equally, when things turned around, it was equally appropriate and legitimate that some money be given back to the taxpayers. >> but you know what the banks say. the banks say, look, we are large global institutions, we're operating all over the world. this is one of the areas where western countries are very competitive and what you are doing is you're now crippling us, just as we're recovering. >> you know, fareed, when i look
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at the forecast and the predicted results, i wouldn't suggest that they're likely to be crippled by a 50% levy on compensation paid to their traders. i don't think so. i think that they have been able to clearly recover and i'm very pleased for them and we need banks that are solid and healthy and secure. but i'm not about to cripple them, no. >> and do you worry about french bankers moving to london or other places? i realize, of course, london has an almost exact equivalent to your tax, but is there -- could they move to je ngeneva, could move to frankfurt? >> as you said, this bonus is that we have joined it with the uk. the temptation to go across the
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channel is, i don't think, really an option. and i hope very much that banks that are operating in paris at the moment will continue to do so and will appreciate that public opinion throughout europe, certainly, and probably in the united states as well, will be pretty much outraged if they were to relocate activities elsewhere, just because they want to avoid paying tax, that they were very pleased to find in bad times when they needed support. >> do you think that -- when you look at the bankers you're talking about, and i think this affects about 2,500 french bankers, do you think that they understand what that what you're saying is, look, you appeal to the french government for support, in the bad times, and now in the good times, you need to pay your share.
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is there that sense of national solidarity, but are bankers now global citizens, perhaps not in the best sense of the word, that they'll just perhaps move on to another country jm >> one observation is that in good times, you're a global citizen. in bad times, suddenly, you become a national citizen and you know which door to knock on. and i would certainly hope that they -- that there is that feeling of solidarity, of joint interest, and of this give-and-take principle, where when you need help, you find it, but equally, you contribute. >> what president obama's proposed tax. what do you think of the american proposal? do you think -- why do you prefer yours? do you think it's legitimate? >> i applaud the system that is being proposed by president obama and which timothy geithner described for me yesterday. it's very balanced.
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it's, as i said, legitimate, reasonable, and perfectly understandable. the system is different, as i understand it, because the bailout plan cost a lot of money and created some loss, which president obama indicates he wants to recoup entirely so that there is not a penny, not a dime, actually, left on the shoulders of the u.s. taxpayer. in our case, it's not as big a plan nor as long a plan, because in the bailout plan that we put together, we did not lose any money. we actually charged interest on the banks and we've recovered and made some profit in the process. but that was probably because french banks were not as affected, not as burdened as others. >> thank you very much, madam laguarde, we hope to have ow on again. (announcer) you can make a bigger difference in the world.
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we're experts at getting you the scooter or power chair you need. in fact, if we pre-qualify you for medicare reimbursement and medicare denies your claim, we'll give you your new power chair or scooter free. i didn't pay a penny out of pocket for my power chair. with help from the scooter store, medicare and my insurance covered it all. call the scooter store for free information today. call the number on your screen for free information. now for our question of the week. last sunday i asked you whether the uproar over the attempted airplane bombing on christmas day, the new security rules, the intelligence reviews, the partisan fighting amounted to an overreaction? i told you my opinion that it
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was an overreaction and i thought you would take me to task for that. but i was wrong. more than 3/4 of you agreed with me. michael chase walker from the los angeles area wrote, "i couldn't agree more. the u.s. has become the living image of a grand elephant terrified of a teensy mouse." on the other hand, maria from cape cod did take humbrage with my opinion saying, "i think it was irresponsible to imply that we were overreacting to the attack, which almost claimed 350 american lives." this week, i would like to know your opinion on haiti. now, almost none of the basic infrastructure of a state have been left in tact. do you think the united states ought to expand large amounts of money and resources to rebuild haiti? how much can or should the united states do to save a country with problems as deep as haiti's? will it do anything?
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let me know what you think. as always, i would like to recommend a book, it's by tracy kidder, one of my panelists on haiti today, and his book is on that subject too. it's called "mountains beyond mountains: the quest of dr. paul farmar." he's an anthropologist and according to one of his hatian patients, a god. farmar's guiding philosophy is the only really nation is humanity and haiti is one of the pet projects he's dedicated his life to. kidder goes along for the ride as he cares for the underdogs of the underdogs. this book will give you an insight into the crisis that was exigent before this week's disaster. farmer was hillary clinton close until the confirmation process in washington became too cumbersome

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